By Charlotte Wallace
A surprising amount of Lewis & Clark students either do not know about the Portland Farmer Market, or have never been to it. Despite its proximity to the Pioneer Express stop, the high quality fresh produce available in Oregon and the variety of stands leave few excuses to not stop by. Fred Meyer offers very little local produce due to the lower cost of imported and mass-produced options, so the Portland Farmers Market is clearly the healthier and tastier option for your weekly shopping. The market happens every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the South Park Blocks between SW College St. and Montgomery St. on the Portland State University campus, less than a minute from the Pion stop.
At first, I was dubious about claims of fresh, local Farmers Market produce being incomparably superior in taste and quality from standard supermarket fare. I started doing a portion of my weekly shopping at the farmers market two years ago, and can say that what I thought was an elitist myth is indeed true. Nevertheless, be aware that not all stands are created equal; many are ridiculously overpriced and should be avoided, but with a little know how, anyone can find quality without risking the overdraft fees.
Kiyokawa Orchards is the best for fruit. Their farm fresh apples are addicting at an average price of only $1.50 to $2.75 a pound. Their apple cider is some of the best you can find, at only $6 a quart. For organic vegetables, Groundwork Organics and Gathering Together Farm have the best options, prices and quality at $1.68 for over a pound of delicious, organic carrots! I purchased some rainbow chard and a very pungent white onion at Groundwork Organics this week as well, which were superior to any supermarket onion in flavor, form and texture.
Produce is not the only desirable commodity to purchase at the Farmers Market; the market has everything from pork chops to handmade pastries. Apologies to the vegans and vegetarians because this information is irrelevant to your life, but there are a number of good stands for purchasing high quality and ethically-produced meat. Although it is a bit expensive, you cannot go wrong with Scratch Meats. A pack of four sausages is $14 but definitely worth it. They make all of their sausages by hand in North Portland and freeze them immediately to ensure the best flavor. The chicken spinach feta is my favorite of the chicken sausages and the French garlic is my favorite of the mixed meat variety. The Deck Farms stand is a good place to buy standard cuts like pork chops at $10 for two excellent and responsibly sourced cuts.
The Farmers Market also offers a variety of fermented foods. Sauerkraut and kimchi are essential for maintaining a healthy digestive system, so stock up at the farmers market because the homemade varieties are generally tastier and more nutritious. Although their produce is grossly overpriced and not worth purchasing, Supernatural Farms has excellent sauerkraut. I am very picky about my pickled goods, and Supernatural farms makes their sauerkraut with a salt brine and not vinegar, so the taste is superior and not too overwhelming. Groundwork Organics also does a good kimchi, which has the right ratio of spice to vinegar.
As far from fermented cabbage as you can get, the handmade pastries at Mio’s Delectables are almost too cute to eat but taste so good that you must. All of the tarts are delicious and the cute $1 dark chocolate French macarons are a tasty gift for friends or for you. All the shopping and stands to visit will make you hungry, so when you finish your shopping or just need a break, be sure to try a tamale at Salvador Molly’s stand. My favorite is the cotija artichoke but all the tamales are excellent.
There are more stands then anyone can visit in a day, and they change from month to month, so do your own exploring. Bring your friends and encourage other Lewis & Clark students to support local farms and enjoy the great produce Oregon has to offer.